The Rough Guide To The Music OfThe Balkans (RGNET 1127)
I’m always amazed when I receive cds from the Rough Guide series. They target an area of the planet and in 70 or so minutes present the diversity of a region in all its diversity.
This cd certainly covers a wide area. Music of the Balkans includes contributions from around 7 countries and is evidence of both unity and diversity. This is music which has endured divisive religious, political, linguistic and ethnic differences and conflicts. It continues to thrive. Here you will find plenty of brass bands, especially from those gypsies who traverse the region. There are several to recommend. Romania’s Fanfare Ciocarlia are a 12 piece band that merge Balkan folk roots with dazzling energetic improvisations.
Boban Markovic Orkestar hail from Serbia and feature Markovic’s mercurial trumpet .They sound a little like speeded -up reggae. There may be few solos but there are shades of jazz colouring native influences.If all this energetic blowing seems exhausting there is some respite in Angelite, a collection of some of the purest voices I’ve heard from Bulgaria. But if that doesn’t float your boat then there is some Balkan Ethnotrance. It comes from Kristi Stassinopoulou – a Greek Grace Slick. She paid her dues in some Jefferson Airplane – esque bands. Look out for her band’s ‘Echotropia’.
Albania hasn’t always been the most accessible region. How many Albanian bands can you name ? Still the unadorned voices of Ensemble Tirana are breath-taking and their polyphonic chorale is a brief but sublime closing piece.
This cd is another reminder that there is still plenty of world out there in which to go on making exciting discoveries.